Asian discrimination is an under-addressed problem in America

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Recent news that a former YouTube employee sued Google for allegedly refusing to hire white and Asian men in an attempt to increase the company’s overall diversity struck my mind. It makes me wonder, as an Asian, what political and social status do we actually have in U.S. society? 

This piece of news shocked me in that, while clearly a racial minority, Asian people do not enjoy protections, but suffer from much more severe restrictions. Constituting about 5 percent of the whole U.S. population, Asians only make up 0.3 percent of business executives, less than 1 percent of companies’ boards of directors, and less than 2 percent of presidents of student unions in universities. 

In addition to pressures in the workplace, Asians face nothing eased in term of education. Studies by sociologists from Princeton University reveal that on average, an Asian student will need to score 140 points more on the SAT to gain an equal chance of admission as a white student. Many applicants with perfect test scores and extracurricular activities are denied based on their racial status. Recently, a lawsuit accuses Harvard of discriminating against Asians in admissions and giving preferences to other racial minorities. The idea of discriminating against Asians in order to make room for other minorities does not seem right as a matter of principle. 

What makes this minority group vulnerable to racial discrimination? One of the foremost reasons might be attributed to the lack of voices in almost every arena. Only a few Asians have a political presence on the federal level to promote the interests of this ethnic group. In terms of popular media and public opinion, the presence of Asians could hardly be raised to the same stage as other racial minorities. 

When movements such as “Black Lives Matter,” the push for Latino rights and considerations over Middle Eastern refugees receive mass attention, few even cared about the controversy over justice for Peter Liang, or the killing of a 60-year-old Chinese man by a neighborhood security guard in Virginia. If all lives are created equal, why does one have to yield importance to another? 

What is more, it seems to be a shared idea that it is okay to make fun of the Asians. The most notorious incident was the Oscars in 2016, when the host Chris Rock publicly humiliated Asians all over the world by telling one racebased joke, while, on the other hand, claiming to bring up diversity for the Academy Awards. In the same ceremony, Sacha Baron Cohen, a Jewish-British actor bluntly stated, “hard-working little yellow people with tiny dongs.” Scandals (or should I just say normal behaviors?) emerge endlessly, with supermodel Gigi Hadid pulling her eyes back in a video to mock the Asian “Slanty Eye,” and NBA player J.J. Redick unambiguously saying a racial slur in a video to Chinese fans. 

As an international student coming from China, I have not experienced these extreme discriminations, yet comments such as “Asians all look the same” or questions like “Do you eat dogs?” have filled many conversations when I meet new people. 

Some may argue “It’s just a joke” or “It’s a minor issue.” However, there is nothing small in racism. The so-called racial discrimination refers to an attitude of contempt, annoyance and exclusion toward a racial or ethnic group, and is manifested in the act of speech or behavior. As long as it is presented, only if it’s a small sensitive word or a controversial action, it ought to be classified as racial discrimination. 

Shifting the topic back to the lack of representation; it may be derived from certain Asian values, such as deference to authority, humility and hard work that there is not a strong willing to be involved. However, it is worth mentioning that the protection of rights comes from people’s own endeavors. 

In Madison, it is encouraging to see more Asian students have been taking greater participation in certain student organizations and on-campus positions. I believe it is also the campus’ aspiration to incorporate more diversified voices. 

Yi is a junior majoring in political science and legal studies. How do you perceive racial discrimination towards the Asian population in Madison? Send any comments, questions or observations to us at opinion@dailycardinal.com. 

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